Malaysia Update: U.S. and Malaysia Firm Up Diplomatic Ties with High-Level Meetings

Malaysia Update | August 31, 2017
Authors: Kim Yaeger, Ezani Mansor, Emma Tabatai, Timotheos Tan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

September 7 - 9: Mission to the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meetings (AEM)

September 26 - 28: Mission to the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM)

September 28: Business Mission to the 39th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry

October 12 - 13: Business Mission to the ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

U.S. and Malaysia Firm Up Diplomatic Ties with High-Level Meetings

On 8 August, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Prime Minister Najib Razak and Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman in Kuala Lumpur, marking the first in a recent succession of high-level meetings aimed at improving diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Malaysian governments. In addition to countering violent extremism and regional security, Secretary Tillerson is likely to have sought assistance from Malaysia in cracking down on clandestine activities conducted by North Korea.

Secretary Tillerson and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi convened the following day, 9 August, to discuss “security developments and two-way cooperation between Malaysia and the U.S., as well as regional and international matters of mutual importance”, according to a release issued by the deputy prime minister’s office. The agenda included human trafficking and bilateral relations; DPM Zahid noted that the U.S. Department of State upgraded Malaysia to Level Two-status in its 2017 Annual Report on human trafficking, in recognition of significant improvements in criminal prosecution and enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws, with Malaysia aiming to achieve Level One-status by 2020. DPM Zahid also highlighted the memorandums of understanding (MOU) signed by the two countries in 2012, addressing trans-border crime; and in 2014, regarding immigration cooperation; as well as an additional agreement, forged in 2015, to share information on individuals suspected of terrorist involvement.

Future considerations for the U.S.-Malaysia relationship include an upcoming visit by Prime Minister Najib to the White House on 12 September at President Donald Trump’s invitation; the two leaders are expected to examine issues pertaining to “national security, the global fight against terrorism and extremism, and trade and investment”, according to Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry. For Prime Minister Najib, the visit is an opportunity to promote himself as a respected world leader ahead of national elections, expected early next year. He will be traveling with his Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed and Minister of Foreign Affairs Anifah Aman. During their visit, the Council, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will be hosting Prime Minister Najib for dinner on September 12. Contact Kim Yaeger at kyaeger@usasean.org for more information.

Malaysia Considering Expedited Halal Certification Issuance Process

On 25 August, Malaysia’s Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Othman Aziz, announced potential initiatives to streamline the halal certification issuance process, in an effort to leverage the full potential of the growing local halal industry. Among the measures under consideration is the prioritization of the approval of companies that have already obtained specific certifications; these include Good Agricultural Practices (MyGAP) or Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry. Datuk Aziz noted that the conditions for MyGAP and GMP certification already form a subset of the conditions for halal certification as defined by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), adding that informing companies with existing MyGAP and GMP certification of the additional halal certification requirements would be a step toward facilitating compliance. Halal certification remains voluntary in Malaysia, compared to neighboring Indonesia, where it is mandatory. Malaysia exported RM42 billion (US$10.4 billion) in halal products in 2016, which paled in comparison to the US$680 billion market potential for halal food products in Muslim countries worldwide, according to Othman, but he remains confident that Malaysia’s local halal industry is ready to tackle the global market.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
DPM denies arbitrary issuance of UNHCR card for Rohingyas
TPP fate to be decided at APEC 2017 in Vietnam
Johor, gateway for Xinjiang in Asean halal market

National Affairs
Malaysia burns illegal fishing boats to send a message
Malaysia's Najib calls for unity in national day speech as polls loom
PKR toes Pakatan’s line on PAS collaboration
Malaysia no trade cheat, Mustapa says
Do not politicise religious matters, says DPM
Trump meets Malaysian delegation to express thanks
Najib accepts Trump's invite for meeting at White House
Trump to meet Malaysian leader amid regional tug of war with China
MIDA urges industries to leverage on new technologies
Tap into the vast Asean market, M’sian firms urged

Customs
Illegal cigarettes still in demand despite customs crackdown

Defense & Security
Hishammuddin: Malaysian Navy to continue SAR operation for USS McCain sailors
Malaysia names and launches first Littoral Combat Ship
DPM: We aim to get into Tier 1
Ahmad Zahid outlines three approaches to help Malaysia reach Tier 1
Ministry to mull border camp

Economics
Malaysia's former central bank chief said to be initially unaware on scale of forex losses
StanChart Research raises Malaysia 2017 GDP growth forecast to 5.4%
Malaysia's July inflation rises at slower-than-expected 3.2%
Malaysia's $62 Billion State Fund Wants to Hold Less Cash
Malaysia GDP Growth Beats Forecasts as Economy Expands 5.8%
Malaysia's external debt lower in Q2 at RM877b

Energy
Malaysia, Indonesia in talks with China to expand palm oil use in biodiesel

Financial Services
Malaysia: Pension fund eyes stakes in several foreign owned insurers
Malaysia: General insurance sector sees flat premiums in 1H
Malaysia: Group captives among SMEs seen as next wave of captive insurers
New framework to cut inflation of medical insurance: Bank Negara
Malaysia c.bank says will act on international banks trading ringgit in Singapore

Food & Agriculture
Malaysia will continue to face shortage of local beef
Deputy finance minister urges expedited halal certification process
Malaysia eyes RM50b halal exports in 2020
Malaysian palm oil price near five-month high
A new era for agriculture sector

Health & Life Sciences
No more lines at govt clinics
Only 7,000 Specialists In Malaysia, We Need More Doctors To Specialise
MOH: “Problems faced by drug manufacturers” – part of the reason behind drug shortage at government hospitals
Malaysia: Insurance associations urge government to implement fee transparency among private hospitals

ICT
Cybersecurity still not a top priority for local enterprises
Salleh: Ministry considering proposal for MCMC registration of online news portals

Infrastructure
AirAsia to consolidate regional units as expansion plans take off
Second industry briefing for KL-Singapore high speed rail AssetsCo tender
Najib: Malaysia beat all expectations in second quarter growth
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

DPM denies arbitrary issuance of UNHCR card for Rohingyas Malay Mail Online 29th Aug 2017
Malaysia will not arbitrarily issue the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) card to the Rohingyas who have sought refuge in the country, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said this was to avoid Malaysia and its people from being overburdened with a flood of Rohingyas fleeing the ethnic clashes in Myanmar. The decision to deny arbitrary granting of the refugee card to the Rohingyas had the cooperation of the UNHCR itself, he said to reporters after handing over sacrificial cows for Aidiladha in his parliamentary constituency of Bagan Datuk, here, today.

TPP fate to be decided at APEC 2017 in Vietnam NST Online 22nd Aug 2017
The future of the Trans Pacific Partnership grouping will be decided during the APEC leaders' summit in Vietnam in November.

Johor, gateway for Xinjiang in Asean halal market NST Online 21st Aug 2017
Johor can become the gateway for Xinjiang-based companies to penetrate the lucrative ASEAN halal market. Johor Tourism, Trade and Consumerism Committee Chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong said its strategic location to neighbouring Singapore, gave the state a competitive edge and offered vast opportunities within and beyond the shores.

National Affairs

Malaysia burns illegal fishing boats to send a message Nikkei Asian Review 31st Aug 2017
The Malaysian government said Wednesday that it has set fire to two illegal fishing boats from abroad after the conventional sinking method failed to prevent intrusion at sea. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency took the drastic step for the first time in the South China Sea near Tok Bali in the northeastern state of Kelantan. The agency, which comes under the Prime Minister's Department, said it hopes to send a "clear message" to the international community that Malaysia is "very alert and serious" about tackling foreign encroachment on its waters. So far, Malaysia has sunk 285 illegal fishing boats into artificial reefs, a method used "without much impact" in discouraging trespassers from neighboring countries.

Malaysia's Najib calls for unity in national day speech as polls loom Channel NewsAsia 30th Aug 2017
Prime Minister Najib Razak called on all Malaysians to stand by his administration on Wednesday in his last national day address before he has to call what could be his toughest general election. Najib's popularity has taken a hit from a multi-billion dollar scandal linked to his pet project, the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund. He also faces simmering discontent over rising living costs and a growing challenge from his former mentor turned foe, Mahathir Mohamad. "In the spirit of independence, now is not the time for us to break ranks," the prime minister said in a statement on the eve of the 60th anniversary of independence from Britain. "In the era of this government's administration, there is no greater gift to the people, in the true meaning of independence, than a government that has the ability to deliver on its promises."

PKR toes Pakatan’s line on PAS collaboration Malay Mail Online 29th Aug 2017
PKR today agreed to the stance taken by Pakatan Harapan on cooperating with PAS ahead of the next general elections. PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the party had decided to honour its pact with the other Pakatan parties and work towards strengthening the Opposition bloc. “We have made a decision that PKR will continue to be committed to efforts of strengthening Pakatan Harapan as well as strategising to defeat Umno-Barisan Nasional in the 14th general elections,” she said today after the party’s political bureau meeting.

Malaysia no trade cheat, Mustapa says Malay Mail Online 29th Aug 2017
Malaysia aims to douse the allegation of being a trade cheat, says International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed. He said Malaysia is a competitive nation and considers bilateral trade as being important. “We have not been cheating. We believe we are competitive.  “Cheating means we sell at below market prices at the counter and under those circumstances there are rules in place,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the official inauguration of Top Glove Global Doctors, here today. Mustapa cited World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules under which countries can impose penalty dumping duties or safeguards, as these are agreed to by members. A recent news report quoted the United States President, Donald Trump’s administration of allegedly stating that Malaysia was among those countries which cheated on its trade numbers.

Do not politicise religious matters, says DPM Malay Mail Online 27th Aug 2017
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today called on all quarters, despite their political differences, to not politicise religious matters. Instead, he said, they should use the political platform to strengthen Islam. “It’s my principle that we can have differences in opinions, differences in political belief, but in (Islamic) religious matters, we should not use religion for politics,” he said when sending off Malaysian pilgrims for the Haj pilgrimage at the Tabung Haji Complex in Kelana Jaya here today.

Trump meets Malaysian delegation to express thanks The Star Online 25th Aug 2017
United States President Donald Trump met up with officials from Malaysia to thank them for their search and rescue efforts for its missing sailors after its warship the USS John S McCain collided with a merchant vessel. "Trump expressed the United States' gratitude for Malaysia’s efforts to recover the fallen US sailors of the USS John S. McCain," the United States embassy in Malaysia said in a statement on Friday. In the photograph released by the US embassy, National Security Council director-general Tan Sri Zulkifeli Muhammad Zin and Malaysia US ambassador Zulhasnan Rafique can be seen flanking Trump at the Oval office at the White House.

Najib accepts Trump's invite for meeting at White House The Star Online 24th Aug 2017
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has accepted an invitation by US President Donald Trump for talks at the White House in September.

Trump to meet Malaysian leader amid regional tug of war with China CNN 24th Aug 2017
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will meet the US President Donald Trump on September 12 in the White House, Washington, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the US government. Domestically, the visit is a huge political win for Najib, a controversial figure who has been hit by a corruption scandal, says James Chin, director at University of Tasmania's Asia Institute. "This will be a major public relations coup because he's under pressure now domestically. The opposition has been saying for a number of years the US wouldn't meet with him ... so getting a meeting with Trump is a major public coup," he said. But the visit could also be a chance for the two countries to improve relations at a time when China has been increasingly spreading its influence across Southeast Asia.

MIDA urges industries to leverage on new technologies NST Online 23rd Aug 2017
Malaysian industries need to leverage on new technologies or risk losing out in capturing market opportunities, said Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

Tap into the vast Asean market, M’sian firms urged The Star Online 22nd Aug 2017
Malaysian companies should be experimenting with the Asean market to tap into the region’s vast population of more than 620 million people, said CIMB Group Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak. He also suggested a minimal tax level across Asean countries and a virtual board that lists out all the top companies in Asean, to spur investments within the region. “We are now living in the world of fourth industrial revolution and that requires scale, that requires our own companies to experiment with the scale of Asean so that we can invest in technology,” he said on the sidelines of the “Asean roundtable series – Deepening capital markets in Asean: Opportunities and challenges’’ yesterday.

Customs

Illegal cigarettes still in demand despite customs crackdown Free Malaysia Today 23rd Aug 2017
The contraband cigarette market will continue to reap the benefits of the rising price in legally sold cigarettes, despite the increased enforcement by the customs department on the illicit trade. Taking into consideration the billions in lost revenue owing to this problem, the customs department increased its enforcement activities at borders, ports and points of entry over the last six months to weed out perpetrators behind the import of illicit cigarettes, The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) reported.

Defense & Security

Hishammuddin: Malaysian Navy to continue SAR operation for USS McCain sailors Malay Mail Online 26th Aug 2017
The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) will continue the search and rescue (SAR) operation for the missing crew of a United States guided-missile destroyer, USS John S. Mccain, in the eastern Johor waters, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. He said the efforts in assisting the US were due to the bilateral ties between the two countries, particularly in defence diplomacy. “This matter (SAR operation) has been raised in the Cabinet meeting... I have asked for the Cabinet's approval to enable the SAR (operation) to continue until the (missing) victims are located. “I have also met with the US Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral Scott Swift recently and they (the US) highly appreciate our efforts,” he told reporters at the Sembrong Umno Division delegates’ conference here today.

Malaysia names and launches first Littoral Combat Ship Jane's 360 25th Aug 2017
Malaysia’s Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) has launched the first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) on order for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN). The vessel, which has been given the pennant number 2501, was launched on 24 August at BNS’ facility in Lumut by the Queen of Perak, Zara Salim. In attendance at the launching ceremony was the Sultan of Perak Nazrin Muizzudin Shah, Malaysian defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, and RMN Chief Admiral Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin. Just prior to its launch, the queen also revealed that the warship will be known in service as KD Maharaja Lela , named after the 19th century anti-British Malay nationalist who was executed by the colonial government in 1877. Maharaja Lela is the first of six LCS platforms ordered under a MYR9 billion (USD2.1 billion) contract awarded to BNS in July 2014, and was laid down in March 2016. According to specifications provided by the RMN, the 3,000-tonne LCS platform features an overall length of 111 m, an overall beam of 16 m, and a hull draught of 3.85 m.

DPM: We aim to get into Tier 1 the star 22nd Aug 2017
A special court to handle human trafficking cases has been set up as part of the measures to get Malaysia into the top-ranked Tier 1 list of countries in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TiP) annual report by 2020.

Ahmad Zahid outlines three approaches to help Malaysia reach Tier 1 The Star Online 22nd Aug 2017
Malaysia needs to beef up its enforcement agencies, work more closely with Interpol, and increase cooperation with the governments of human trafficking source countries, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ministry to mull border camp The Star Online 19th Aug 2017
The Defence Ministry will consider the proposal for a Border Regiment camp to be set up in Rantau Panjang, here. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Army Chief Datuk Seri Zulkiple Kassim would be asked to look into the proposal as Rantau Panjang area was located at the Malaysia-Thailand border.

Economics

Malaysia's former central bank chief said to be initially unaware on scale of forex losses The Straits Times 30th Aug 2017
Malaysia's central bank governor during the 1990s was initially unaware that massive losses were incurred in a foreign exchange trading scandal, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) heard on Wednesday. Witnesses at the proceeding said former governor Jaffar Hussein did not realise the magnitude of the losses until much later. "I informed the governor about the huge losses suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) but the governor did not believe me and said the losses could not be that much," said Lim Swee Kuan, a former special assistant to the governor.

StanChart Research raises Malaysia 2017 GDP growth forecast to 5.4% The Star Online 30th Aug 2017
Standard Chartered Global Research has raised its 2017 GDP growth forecast for Malaysia to 5.4% from 4.6% underpinned by the strong first half performance but it expects growth to moderate in the second half. It said on Wednesday this reflects strong first half (H1) growth of 5.7%, although it still expects growth to ease in H2.  “Two key areas positively surprised us in the H1 data: (1) the resilience of private consumption, which rose close to 7% on-year; and (2) private investment, which increased 10% on-year,” it said.  StanChart Research said exports picked up in line with its expectations, although higher imports curtailed the contribution from net exports.  “Despite the strong H1 growth, we maintain our view that growth will moderate in H2-2017 and that private consumption will ease,” it said. 

Malaysia's July inflation rises at slower-than-expected 3.2% Nikkei Asian Review 25th Aug 2017
Malaysia's consumer prices rose at a slower pace in July thanks to cheaper fuel and modest easing in food cost pressure, and economists said inflation may continue to moderate in the months ahead providing room for the central bank to stand pat on policy interest rate this year. The consumer price index-- Malaysia's main gauge of inflation - rose 3.2% in July from a year earlier, the Department of Statistics said in a statement. That compares with a median 3.4% increase predicted in a Nikkei Markets poll and June's 3.6% year-on-year gain. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the index declined 0.1% from the previous month.

Malaysia's $62 Billion State Fund Wants to Hold Less Cash Bloomberg.com 20th Aug 2017
Malaysia’s largest state-owned fund manager is looking to hold less cash even as it struggles to make acquisitions that would generate attractive returns. A fifth of Permodalan Nasional Bhd.’s266 billion ringgit ($62 billion) of assets under management is in cash and money markets, and Chairman Abdul Wahid Omar said in an interview that the fund could reduce such holdings by at least 5 percentage points. That would free up about 13.3 billion ringgit, according to Bloomberg calculations. “Whilst we need to maintain a certain level of cash, it doesn’t have to be 20 percent,” said Wahid, a former cabinet minister who joined PNB a year ago. “We can easily go down to 15 percent and below.” Still, the ringgit is among factors holding PNB back from being more aggressive with acquisitions. The currency remains "relatively weak," Wahid said on Thursday, declining to specify what he thinks is a fairer value for the exchange rate. Earlier this year, the ringgit declined to levels not seen since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. It has rebounded and was at 4.29 per dollar on Friday. "The last thing you want is that you invest in a U.S. dollar asset at 4.30 and within a year, the ringgit strengthens, by say, 5 percent," Wahid said. That would render returns lower when earnings are converted back to the local currency and PNB is "mindful of that kind of situation," he said.

Malaysia GDP Growth Beats Forecasts as Economy Expands 5.8% Bloomberg.com 18th Aug 2017
Malaysia’s economy is gaining momentum as it grows at the fastest pace in more than two years. The global trade recovery has spurred exports, with Malaysia outperforming its peers in the region as earlier weakness in the currency helped to keep its manufacturing industry competitive. The World Bank raised the nation’s growth forecast in June by the most in East Asia, projecting 4.9 percent expansion this year. Central bank Governor Muhammad Ibrahim told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that growth will probably exceed the official forecast of 4.8 percent this year. The bank last month held its benchmark interest rate at 3 percent as inflation pressures eased and growth prospects strengthened. Speaking in general terms, Muhammad said “when economic growth is entrenched, and if inflation is essentially benign, it gives Bank Negara a bit more flexibility in terms of policy.” “But as far as we are concerned, we will look at the data objectively,” he said. “Our next meeting will be in September, early September, so we will look at it and see where we should move forward.”

Malaysia's external debt lower in Q2 at RM877b The Star 18th Aug 2017
Malaysia’s external debt declined to RM877.5bil at end-June 2017 from  end-March as the ringgit firmed up against selected major and regional currencies and also due to net repayment of interbank borrowings during the second quarter. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said on Friday the external debt of RM877.5bil was equivalent to US$202.3bil or 66.9% of GDP as at end-June 2017. This was an improvement from end-March 2017's RM897bil (US$200.8bil).  “The lower external debt largely reflects the valuation effects following the strengthening of the ringgit against selected major and regional currencies and net repayment of interbank borrowing during the second quarter.  “There were also net repayment of intercompany loans and redemption of maturing bond and notes by the private sector. These declines were partly offset by an increase in non-resident holdings of domestic debt securities, especially Malaysian Government Securities (MGS), and a small increase in non-resident deposits,” it said.

Energy

Malaysia, Indonesia in talks with China to expand palm oil use in biodiesel Free Malaysia Today 23rd Aug 2017
Indonesia and Malaysia are currently in discussions with China to expand the use of palm oil in the world’s second-biggest economy through palm-enriched biodiesel, the plantations industries and commodities minister said today. Mah Siew Keong said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur that China, also the world’s second-largest palm oil buyer, is looking into the possibility of implementing a requirement that biodiesel should contain a minimum 5% of palm oil, a mandate known as “B5”. “Malaysia and Indonesia will make a joint effort to discuss with China,” said Mah, adding that the two countries also want to play a part in expanding the biodiesel market in India. Mah did not disclose the precise nature of the discussions or a timetable for their conclusion, nor did he indicate how much more palm oil China would consume with a “B5” mandate. It wasn’t immediately clear how seriously China is reviewing the matter.

Financial Services

Malaysia: Pension fund eyes stakes in several foreign owned insurers Asia Insurance Review 29th Aug 2017
Malaysia's second biggest pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) has narrowed down its investment options among foreign-owned insurance companies which have to reduce their stakes in their Malaysian businesses in order to comply with foreign ownership limits. KWAP Chief Executive Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad said: "We are at the point of appointing an investment bank as our advisor... (The companies are) the big ones, Great Eastern, Prudential and AIA," he said.

Malaysia: General insurance sector sees flat premiums in 1H Asia Insurance Review 25th Aug 2017
The general insurance industry in Malaysia saw gross written premium decline by 1.9% to MYR9.17 billion (US$2.14 billion) for the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year, the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) announced yesterday. Overall, the industry recorded a mixed performance across all business lines. While the two dominant classes of Motor and Fire insurance grew 1.8% (MYR4.2 billion) and 2.4% (MYR1.8 billion) respectively, the industry was weighed down by the sharp drop of 13.2% in Marine Aviation and Transit (MAT) insurance from MYR944 million to MYR820 million. The depressed state of the Oil & Gas industry and a weak aviation sector were the main contributing factors to the poor MAT results.

Malaysia: Group captives among SMEs seen as next wave of captive insurers Asia Insurance Review 21st Aug 2017
The overlapping markets of the mutual, captive and takaful industries are likely to provide an important impetus for the wider use of group captives among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Bank Negara Malaysia governor Mr Muhammad Ibrahim has said. Speaking at the inaugural Asian Captive Conference 2017 hosted by Labuan International Business and Financial Centre earlier this week, he added that captive insurers are poised to move beyond the predominant focus on the single parent-captive model and the exclusive domain of large corporates. He said that many non-profits entities in the US and an increasing number of SMEs are accessing captives via group captive models that pool assets and share risks across its members. Captive insurance could be a powerful catalyst for more mature risk management practices and culture among SMEs.

New framework to cut inflation of medical insurance: Bank Negara NST Online 18th Aug 2017
Bank Negara Malaysia will come out with a framework to reduce medical insurance inflation, which now stands at 12 per cent.

Malaysia c.bank says will act on international banks trading ringgit in Singapore Reuters 18th Aug 2017
Any international bank that has an operating license in Malaysia could face legal action if it facilitates ringgit futures trading on the Singapore Stock Exchange and the Intercontinental Exchange, Malaysia's central bank governor said on Friday. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Muhammad Ibrahim said any ringgit transaction in Singapore involving a Malaysian client and a bank licensed in Malaysia will be subject to Malaysian law. "The law specifically says that residents, which includes individuals and banks operating here, if they engage in any illegal activities in contravention with the Financial Services Act, we will take action," Muhammad told a news conference.

Food & Agriculture

Malaysia will continue to face shortage of local beef NST Online 25th Aug 2017
Malaysia will continue to face shortage of local beef and dependent on imports, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman. With the shortage, he said Malaysia was forced to import livestock products from Thailand and Australia, as well as frozen meat from India. He said this caused the price, caused by the currency exchange rates, to be passed on to consumers. It was reported that Malaysia currently produced 52,000 tonnes of beef worth RM169 million and import beef worth RM1.14 billion annually to meet local demand of about 191,000 tonnes.

Deputy finance minister urges expedited halal certification process Malay Mail Online 25th Aug 2017
The process of issuing halal certification to local industry players needs to be streamlined and expedited to optimise the potential of the growing halal industry, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Othman Aziz said. Among the initiatives that could be considered was to prioritise or speed up the approval process from companies that had already obtained specific certifications such as Good Agricultural Practices (MyGAP) or Good Manufacturing Practice, both of which are issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, he said.

Malaysia eyes RM50b halal exports in 2020 NST Online 23rd Aug 2017
Malaysia is aiming for a whopping RM50 billion worth of halal exports in 2020, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Malaysian palm oil price near five-month high The Star Online 22nd Aug 2017
Malaysian palm oil futures surged to a near-five-month high in evening trade on Monday, supported by forecasts of slower than expected output growth and technical buying despite weaker export data from cargo surveyors. The benchmark palm oil contract for November delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange rose 1.1 percent to 2,711 ringgit ($632.60) for its strongest daily gain in more than a week. The contract earlier touched 2,720 ringgit, its highest since March 29. Traded volumes stood at 67,988 lots of 25 tonnes on Monday evening. "The market believes there may be negative growth in production," one Kuala Lumpur futures trader said. "There's also some technical buying as we break new highs."

A new era for agriculture sector BorneoPost Online 21st Aug 2017
Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg wants Sarawak to be a net exporter of high quality agriculture produce and products that meet the needs of both domestic and global markets. However, the Chief Minister believed this vision could only be achieved through the transformation of the agriculture sector. “I would like the sector to be competitive, vibrant, dynamic, sustainable and capable to generate more new innovative businesses and high value employment opportunities,” he said in his keynote address at the opening of the International Conference on Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sarawak (Icaas) 2017 at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here yesterday. “For a start, our target is to increase the monthly household income of the farmers from RM2,750 to at least RM4,000 by 2020. We will reduce the 50 per cent mean household income disparity between the rural at RM2,754 and urban at RM5,516. Through this effort, we will also be able to alleviate the incidence of poverty in the rural areas from the current level of 1.6 per cent. “For food production, we aim to increase our self-sufficiency level (SSL) in food. Presently our SSL targets for food items are, for rice from 53 per cent to 60 per cent, fruits and vegetables from 60 per cent to 65 per cent, fisheries from 92 per cent to 100 per cent and beef from 10 per cent to 50 per cent.”

Health & Life Sciences

No more lines at govt clinics The Star Online 31st Aug 2017
Queuing up to get a number to see a doctor at government health clinics is soon to be a thing of the past. Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the ministry was in the midst of carrying out a pilot project for patients to use an online application to get their numbers for an appointment with doctors.He said currently in some clinics, patients could be seen lining up at 6am to get an early number.Dr Hilmi said the pilot project was expected to start at the Seri Kembangan government clinic soon, and if the project is a success, it would be implemented nationwide.“With the online application, people no longer need to wait at clinics early because with a mere click on their handphone, they will be able to get their numbers.“The application will also inform them about the current number being called, and therefore they are able to make adjustments to reach the clinic on time for their appointment,” he told reporters after handing out certificates of appreciation to 333 staff from the State Health Department who retired this year.

Only 7,000 Specialists In Malaysia, We Need More Doctors To Specialise Malaysian Digest 29th Aug 2017
It is hard to believe that we live in a country where heart disease is found to be the number one killer disease in the last 10 years, and the National Heart Institute revealed that it treats at least 150,000 heart patients per annum, yet we have roughly less than 500 cardiologists, amongst our population of 32 million people. But looking beyond cardiology, the situation is more worrying as a recent report from The Star revealed that Malaysia has approximately 7,000 specialists throughout the nation – which is regarded as insufficient – and there are too many General Practitioners (GPs). The article highlights we are severely lacking in five areas namely adolescent medicine, paediatric rheumatology, intensive care medicine, urogynaecology and forensic psychiatry.

MOH: “Problems faced by drug manufacturers” – part of the reason behind drug shortage at government hospitals MIMS News 24th Aug 2017
Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) admitted on 20 August that the shortage of drug supply for certain medications was due to problems being faced by drug manufacturers. The issue was further worsened by a hike in the number of patients going to the MOH’s facilities this year, remarked Health director-general, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. “This year’s allocation for the procurement of the medicines is sufficient. The drugs were distributed to all hospitals based on the expenditure last year,” he explained. As such, Dr Noor Hisham said the situation has been monitored closely by the MOH, and “alternative sources for the medicines were being identified to ensure adequate supply.”

Malaysia: Insurance associations urge government to implement fee transparency among private hospitals MIMS News 21st Aug 2017
On 16 August, insurance companies and Takaful operators have assured that they have not requested “cuts” from hospitals for the medical expenses incurred by policy holders. Three insurance companies – The Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM), General Insurance Association of Malaysia and Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA) – published in a joint statement that they viewed such unfounded allegations made by several private hospitals with serious concerns. This comes after the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on 11 August that it will work with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to investigate the ongoing practice of private health insurance companies imposing administrative charges on private hospitals. According to Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, the matter had long been in practice by almost all private health insurance companies nationwide. However, it has only come to his attention recently, after receiving complaints from several private hospital representatives.

ICT

Cybersecurity still not a top priority for local enterprises Digital News Asia 29th Aug 2017
Only twenty-four percent of enterprises are mulling transforming their cybersecurity solutions 2. IDC research indicates that MSS in Malaysia are expected to grow to US$224 million in 2021

Salleh: Ministry considering proposal for MCMC registration of online news portals Malay Mail Online 28th Aug 2017
The Communications and Multimedia Ministry is considering a proposal to require eligible online news portals to register with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said the idea was to make news portals in the country more responsible and enable the MCMC to determine the volume of visitors to such portals. The matter was in the final stage of discussion before being presented to the Attorney-General’s Chambers by the end of this year, he said to reporters after presenting the prizes for the Merdeka 2017 Instagram (Photo and Video) Competition and launching the album of the Patriots band here.

Infrastructure

AirAsia to consolidate regional units as expansion plans take off Free Malaysia Today 29th Aug 2017
AirAsia Bhd plans to consolidate its various regional affiliates under one holding company, in contrast to a scattered structure now, as the airline takes off on a rapid expansion path in its core Southeast Asian markets. The Malaysia-based carrier, currently the listed investment holding company and the operating firm for AirAsia’s Malaysian airline business, proposed a share exchange and transfer of listing with newly created AirAsia Group Bhd, or Newco. Under the reorganisation, the investment holding function and the Malaysian airline business will be separated.

Second industry briefing for KL-Singapore high speed rail AssetsCo tender NST Online 23rd Aug 2017
MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd and the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA) will jointly conduct a second industry briefing on September 26 as they prepare to solicit bids for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) assets company (AssetsCo).

Najib: Malaysia beat all expectations in second quarter growth The Star 18th Aug 2017
The manufacturing and construction sectors are two industries that contributed significantly to the country's 5.8% economic growth in the second quarter this year, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. The Prime Minister commended the industry players for their contribution to the country's achievement in terms of the increase in the country's gross domestic product (GDP).